Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ciao, California!

I found out that one of my favorite teachers from high school, Mr. Near, is dying. He has a few weeks left to live. I visited him on Saturday, and realized how terrible goodbyes are -- for all the goodbyes I have said in the past few weeks, this was the only true goodbye.

Mr. Near once said:
When I first started teaching, I substituted one day at my old junior high. One of my former teachers, upon seeing me and realizing I had become a teacher, actually said to me, "Oh, I always thought you could have done so much more." I guess in her mind I hadn't "done my best." And, maybe by her standard I hadn't. I would suggest that you find a different standard because I wouldn't trade my life or career for anyone's.
So, Mr. Near, thank you. People underestimate the importance of a well-taught class -- how the subject matter can grip you and run in circles through your head. People underestimate the importance of a teacher with a booming voice and a stern stare -- how one glance tells you that something wonderful is being taught. You taught me that a life well-lived is not determined by the number of times your name pops up on Google or the size of your bank account.

As for that booming voice of yours, I was at a loss for words (which I admit, is rarely the case) when I saw that it had become a raspy whisper on Saturday. I miss your voice.

I bid California farewell tonight. After I get off the plane tomorrow morning, I still won't know where I'm going in the next few years.

But as Mr. Near taught me, we might not have the future -- so live now, live hard, love now, and love hard. Mommy, Daddy, and Kathy -- thank you so much for a ridiculous past 18 years.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Batucada "Baroco" Bracelet mini-giveaway winner

Before I head off to bed in my own room for the last time (at least, for a few months), I would like to announce the winner (randomly selected) of the Batucada "Baroco" Bracelet mini-giveaway:

Grace, age 18: My favorite piece of jewelery is a multi-strand faux pearl necklace from Forever 21. It's cream-coloured and has gold accents. I love it to pieces.

Congratulations, Grace -- you'll love this eco-plastic bracelet as much as I love my eco-plastic necklace. Please email me with your name and mailing address from the same email you provided in your entry.

I'm off to slumberland!

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dorm room decorating

A lot of my high school classmates have already moved into their dorm rooms -- I know this because Facebook albums with billions of dorm photos have popped up onto my Newsfeed. I've seen messy dorms, immaculate dorms, colorful dorms, and barely furnished dorms. Even though all of the dorms are different, everyone seems to have propped up their living space in the course of a day.

However, I don't think I could decorate and furnish my dorm room in the span of one move-in day -- I need more time to carefully pick out my decorations and furnishings. I have a few decorations ready to go, but I want to wander around the city and find pieces that spell out home to me, instead of racking up the Christmas lights and flokati rugs on a quick run through Target.
So far, I have a Breakfast at Tiffany's movie poster. I grew up watching Audrey Hepburn and I want to frame the poster for aesthetic appeasement.
My daddy picked up this table lamp for me -- I like it much better than a plastic clip-on desk lamp. I'm a big fan of organic shapes with modernist touches.
Okay, I know there's a mirror in the bathroom, but I need my own vanity mirror. This one lights up, magnifies to different intensities, and has a plug-in at the base for my hair straightener. There are many things I am willing to share, but I also don't enjoy fighting for the mirror in my suite's bathroom.
For my down comforter, I purchased this duvet cover with a cream jacquard texture. I actually had a secret desire to make my own duvet.
I found a $100 gift card to JCPenney in my room. I have never shopped there before, but they had some great deals on twin XL sheets, which I was frantically searching for. I got two sets of sheets and pillowcases in bright mango and aqua blue.
In keeping with my attempts to maintain a bright sunny room, I am pasting these crimson poppy wall decals on my wall. It's so easy and typical of me to opt for silvers, black, and whites for my room, but I do believe that a warm atmosphere can foster warm spirits.

I want to tear out pages of W magazine, which is always oversized, and tack them onto my wall. I also want to buy a French memo board and fill it with photos from high school. I'm not sure yet, and I don't think I'll have a "finished" dorm room for at least a month.

So, help me, please -- what are your favorite places for furnishings and decorations and art in New York City (or online)? Where can I buy poster frames at reasonable prices? How are you decorating your dorm? What are your decorating tips?

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. Okay fine, I admit it. I'm also tacking up a Spice Girls poster.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sharp words, sharp images

I felt terrible after selling my copy of Perrine's Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry by to a rising senior who would be taking AP English Literature & Composition soon. I fell in love with poetry through this book and it was only senior year that I began collecting my favorite poems.

So, I would like to share two of my favorite poems with you:
Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins
By R.S. Gwynn

Good Catholic girl, she didn't mind the cleaning.
All of her household chores, at first, were small
And hardly labors one could find demeaning.
One's duty was one's refuge, after all.

And if she had her doubts at certain moments
And once confessed the to the Father, she
Was instantly referred to texts in Romans
And Peter's First Epistle, chapter III.

Years passed. More sinful every day, the Seven
Breakfasted, grabbed their pitchforks, donned their horns,
And sped to contravene the hopes of heaven,
Sowing the neighbors' lawns with tares and thorns.

She set to work. Pride's wall of looking glasses
Ogled her dimly, smeared with prints of lips;
Lust's magazines lay strewn, bare tits and asses
Weighted by his "devices" - chains, cuffs, whips.

Gluttony's empties covered half the table,
Mingling with Avarice's cards and chips,
And she'd been told to sew a Bill Blass label
Inside the blazer Envy'd bought at Gyps.

She knelt to the cold master bathroom floor as
If a petitioner before the Pope,
Retrieving several pairs of Sloths's soiled drawers,
A sweat-sock and a cake of hairy soap.

Then, as she wiped the Windex from the mirror
She noticed, and the vision made her cry,
How much she'd grayed and paled, and how much clearer
Festered the bruise of Wrath beneath her eye.

"No poisoned apple needed for this Princess,"
She murmured making X's with her thumb.
A car door slammed, bringing her to her senses:
Ho-hum. Ho-hum. It's home from work we come.

And she was out the window in a second,
In time to see a Handsome Prince, of course,
Who, in spying her distressed condition, beckoned
For her to mount (What else?) his snow-white horse.

Impeccably he spoke. His smile was glowing.
So debonair! So charming! And so Male.
She took a step, reversed and without slowing
Beat it to St. Anne's where she took the veil.

Suicide's Note
By Langston Hughes

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
What are your favorite poems?

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Thursday, August 20, 2009

P-p-p-pockets everyday

{Batucada "Baroco" necklace from Brooklyn5and10, silk J. Crew belt with feathers, Lamixx wool pocket dress, ankle-strapped wedge heels from Belle International}
You see, I think every girl -- especially every college girl -- should have a dress with functional pockets. Deep pockets for when you don't want to carry around a purse (although, handbags are a basic necessity in my book). However, most of the "practical" dresses and skirts I've bought, from a $600 Marc by Marc Jacobs dress to a $200 BCBG Max Azria skirt to a $30 Erin Fetherston for Target jumper, have fake pockets or flimsy pockets which I don't trust with my keys. Why is it so hard to find a nice looking dress with usable pockets? What if I'm just running out of my dorm room for a quick snack downstairs and I don't want to bring my entire bag?

Enter the wool blend low v pocket dress from Jacqueline Rose of Lamixx. Like an ideal pocket dress, it's versatile and easy to manipulate. Here are five reasons why ladies need pockets too:
  1. We don't always have the perfect purse or clutch for the outfit.
  2. On top of all of the clothes in the hamper, do we seriously want to carry our purses to do the laundry too?
  3. Sometimes, reaching into our pockets is easier than digging around a Balenciaga.
  4. If men carry manpurses (or "murses") nowadays, we can ask for "manly" pockets.
  5. We're prone to carry too much in our purses (well, at least I am).
My friends like this dress -- but they also think that it looks like a potato sack (an attractive one, at least). However, cinch the waist and you get a comfortable wool dress that can be dressed down or up. The wonderful thing about a dress with pockets is that it can be thrown on for a quick errand or dolled up for a night out. It reminds of the loose playdresses I wore as a child. I recall that those dresses had pockets too. I can still have playdates, right?

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. To enter to win the Batucada "Baroco" bracelet (I'm wearing the Batucada "Baroco" necklace), click here! Entries close on August 23rd, 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Big baubles on bagues

I like rings, but I don't like the delicate thin kinds. I like them gaudy, ostentatious, and usually big. I only thought about this when my friend Katie showed me her new cocktail rings. Two summers ago, I bought a giant plastic blue ring in New York City and I showed my teacher. "Oh...that's great..." she said, shifting her eyes away. I have to admit though, that was a tacky ring.

My two favorite ring designers are Miss Bibi and Mauboussin -- they not only make beautiful wedding rings, but they also make fun whimsical pieces.
(Photo Credit -- Miss Bibi)
Miss Bibi bagues call out to the romantic fairytale lover within me, from the Mickey Mouse ears to the giant heart.
(Photo Credit -- Mauboussin)
Mauboussin bagues, on the other hand, manage to be both classic and unique. Big colorful gems have never been this sophisticated.
But you know, Miss Bibi and Mauboussin rings are far from cheap costume jewelry. A more affordable alternative would be this opal cluster ring from Limoges Jewelry. All of the bling without the big bucks.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mini-giveaway: Batucada "Baroco" Bracelet

{Sara Berman cropped tuxedo jacket, Uniqlo skinny jeans, Sonia Rykiel sandals, Old Navy ribbed tank top, clutch from Silk Street in Beijing, straw hat from flea market, Batucada "Baroco" necklace from Brooklyn5and10}
The remainder of my days in California have been spent packing, bidding farewell to friends, perusing the Iliad, and lounging at home watching Disney movies and eating homemade potstickers. I have packed most of my clothes, and now am wearing a daily uniform of tank top, jeans, and sandals. On the laziest days when I don't leave the house, I am probably wearing a raggedy pair of shorts and a giant t-shirt -- no really, I did pack everything.
Since I only have seven days left at home, I am hosting a mini-giveaway for a Batucada eco-plastic "Baroco" bracelet from Brooklyn5and10! As you can see, I am wearing the "Baroco" necklace, which is fascinating because the soft plastic molds to your skin, like a tattoo necklace. Reminds me of those tattoo chokers that were all the rage in elementary school, but much more interesting in an asymmetrical organic sense. It feels like nothing. While I've always been a gold, silver, and pearl snob, I adore the idea of jewelry that I can easily wear while swimming or exercising (the plastic is sweatproof and waterproof). I was actually doing research on "easy-maintenance" jewelry for an article I was planning to write when I stumbled across this collection.

To enter to win, just leave your name, age, email address -- and tell me about your favorite piece of jewelry. Entries close on August 23rd, 2009, and the winner will be announced on August 24th, 2009. Good luck, and more good luck if you've already started school!

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

P.S. Yes, the selection of the winner will be random -- so feel free to enter if you happen to know me in real life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In facialists we trust

(Photo Credit -- Getty Images)
I discovered today that I am emotionally attached to my facialist. While I am loyal to my manicurist and hairdresser too, there is nothing like placing your trust in someone who extracts your blackheads (in other words, pops your zits) on a regular basis. It's always important to go to a licensed esthetician -- preferably one recommended by your dermatologist (my facialist, in fact, works with my dermatologist). You can always take a shower right after a bad perm, but the scarring from a bad blackhead extraction can last for a long time.

During my hour-long facial, my esthetician and I talked about college life and our terrible fascination with the students behind the television show NYC Prep. Alas, she ended up recommending the Glytone Flesh Tinted Acne Treatment Lotion with sulfur and resorcinol as a spot treatment for me. It smells like sulfur, but luckily I'm just using it at night.
Of course, after a facial, one's face is generally redder and more swollen than usual -- and more sensitive, as I can still feel the tingly aftereffects. As I bid my facialist goodbye this morning, I felt strangely stricken. I mean, I don't even let myself touch my face beyond my morning and night skincare regiments. I must have a lot of trust in her in order to let her touch my face for an entire hour.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SophistiKATEd

Debuted yesterday, the Kate Spade clothing collection is nothing short of a delightful array of whimsical and ladylike frocks and coats -- a slightly more mature version of what Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl would wear.

With charming names such as the Bisous Lace Gail Dress and the Madeline Paulina Cardigan, the pieces in the collection boast of vivid color, simple lines, and classic versatility for the adventurous lady who prefers dressing up to dressing down.

'Tis no wonder that Kate Spade once said,"I think that playing dress-up begins at age five and never truly ends."

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Two weeks until takeoff

"I wanted out. That was partly why I’d chosen Columbia. I like how the city seethed up against the school, mocking its theoretical seclusion with hustle and noise, the din of people going and getting and making. things that mattered at Princeton or Yale couldn’t possible withstand this battering of raw, unironic life. You didn’t go to eating clubs at Columbia, you went to jazz clubs. You had a girlfriend— no, a lover — with psychiatric problems, and friends with foreign accents. You read newspapers on the subway and looked at tourists with a cool, anthropologicial gaze. You said crosstown express. You said the Village. You ate weird food. No other boy in my class would be going there." -- Old School by Tobias Wolff
There are two reasons why I picked out this passage. First, it embodies everything about Columbia University that I hope to understand in the next four years. I'm thinking about studying Art History, Political Science, and Human Rights in order to gain a wide understanding of culture and society and what I can and should do about it. Second, Tobias Wolff is a beautiful writer and I think everyone should read his short stories, novels, and memoirs. I'm jealous that he's a professor at Stanford University.

This brings me to a topic I've always wanted to write about. Actually, no -- this brings me to a rambling of many topics, some of which I have never told anyone in person. And actually, no -- I didn't envision putting my jumbled thoughts in writing until last night, when I was in the car with a girl friend who would be attending The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania this fall. We started talking about college ambitions, graduate school, good careers for women, balancing family and career -- everything that two 18-year-old girls dreaming of bright futures could talk about.

And then she asked me how much I could make starting off in fashion publishing.

"Well, editorial assistants make around $35,000 a year, I think," I replied. That was about how much our high school tuition cost every year, to put things into perspective.

"You need to find another option then. There has got to be something else for you," she replied matter-of-factly. I stared ahead at the cars zooming in front of me.

Is there something else for me? Possibilities will always be endless -- there very well could be something else out there. Earlier this year, I revealed why fashion meant more to me than a law degree ever could. Fashion -- drapery, embellishment, reconstruction -- makes sense to me. Words -- beautiful, searing words -- make sense to me.

After interning at Seventeen last summer, there was nothing else I wanted to do more than to work in fashion publishing. To write. To edit. To publish. To create. To be in awe.

Sure, I know "money doesn't buy happiness" and I firmly believe that success is not measured by the size of one's bank account, but I want to give my children the best opportunities in life -- just like my parents did for me.

My parents came into this country with $200 in their pockets (borrowed, of course), and they've sacrificed plenty to achieve the American dream. My mommy wanted to be an artist; she would sit on street corners all day and sketch with charcoal. My daddy was a smart slacker who learned to work hard after he graduated college at age 19 (he would have graduated earlier but he skipped class for an entire year). However, both of them entered the United States as starving graduate students and eventually became successful professionals in their medical and engineering fields. My mommy gave up her creative dreams to have a well-respected and stable career -- and to give me the opportunities that she never had.

My parents didn't teach me about how to tie a scarf and they still don't know the difference between Vogue and Elle. My mommy comes to me when she needs to shop for make-up. They definitely didn't push me to love fashion or writing. However, my parents always did push me to be independent, from the day my mommy brought me to the lab and told me that I had to occupy myself with a copy of See Spot Run for the next few hours (I was three and I was teaching myself to read) to the first out of sixty days that they left me alone in New York City last summer. "Shut up and think for yourself," my daddy growled at me when I was six. I didn't learn to shut up, but I did learn to think for myself.

So I began to write. I won elementary poetry contests with rhyming dictionaries and terrible syntax. My first short story was in fourth grade -- about an Egyptian warrior princess. My teacher told me that I had a great voice, but I became lazy at the conclusion. I kept writing. I wrote a short story about fairies in seventh grade. My teacher gave me a "C" on the manuscript. My first "C' grade ever. A month later, I got my short story published in the Stanford Anthology for Youth. "Well, people have different tastes," she shrugged. I was published for the first time, and I realized that the only way I could become a better writer was by writing more.

I don't know where I'm going with this piece, which goes to show that I still haven't overcome my biggest problem in writing: conclusions. My fourth grade Egyptian princess story had a faulty ending and this blog post will also have a faulty ending. What am I trying to say? What have I always been trying to say?

I am surrounded by brilliant schoolmates from high school and college who will achieve great things in their life. All my friends know that I dream of being a published author and fashion magazine editor and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and entrepreneur, but as you can tell from the 152 comments under Lauren Conrad's intern blog entry on Teen Vogue -- a lot of impressionable girls dream of the same things as me. My biggest fear is not that I will fall short of expectations for myself (for I always set lofty goals), but that everything my parents sacrificed for me will be in vain.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Note to self: Enroll in a creative writing class at Columbia. Figure out how to make that conclusion happen. And then keep making other things happen. Let the city and the school "seeth" up against you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cupcake (not cake) craving

I've always found Louis Vuitton purse cakes and shoe cakes to be painstakingly fascinating and yet too much of an extravagance for a girl who rarely cuts even cake slices and tends to eat what is in front of her without looking at her plate (I know -- I should change this habit). Cake is cake. The giant confection will be sliced and possibly smeared all over someone's face anyways.

I do like pretty cupcakes though -- while they're relatively simple in decoration (in comparison to a full cake), they punch a lot of flavor and petite glory into a few bites.
I could write on about cupcakes with the same enthusiasm that I do for fashion, but what prompted these sugary thoughts are these fashion-inspired cupcake photographs by photographer Therese Aldgård and prop stylist Lisa Edsälv. Why not have Vera Wang-inspired cupcakes to complement a Vera Wang gown on your wedding day?
Tragically, the last time I truly enjoyed a cupcake was at my eighteenth birthday party -- from Kara's Cupcakes, to be exact.

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable

Monday, August 3, 2009

Drastic elastic

I originally intended to make a giant back-to-school shopping list, but I got distracted by this Angela cage dress by Bordelle. It's not very practical or appropriate for class (even though I was so tempted to add it onto my list), but it is a beautiful deconstructed rendition of a Hervé Léger "body-con" dress. Femme fetale is a look that never goes out.

Plus, I mean, a pair of leggings (and a cardigan) could cover up the dress for class, right?

ex.oh.ex.oh
Miss Couturable